Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fracture Demo: More sandbox, please...

Fracture promised mucho fun game play, but I'm not sure the demo really put the game's best foot forward.

After introducing me to a cool tech demo of various weapons, I was dropped into a heavily scripted linear experience. It seems to me that this is a game that would be most fun in some sort of cool co-op or multi-player free for all. There are lots of opportunities for entertaining game play and cool strategery.

The initial learn as you play aspect of the game was quite decent. Experienced FPS players should whiz through it and less experienced players get to explore basic movement and controls in a friendly environment before the threat of combat is introduced.

Moreover, because the weapons were so cool (well, more the environment x weapon interactions were cool) the game still felt fun even though the first 5-10 minutes had no combat at all. I could have easily played for another 10-15 minutes in sandbox mode had there been a bunch of hidden or alternative challenges/objectives buried there.

I did get hung up during the tutorial phase of the game in a classic "whoops" moment. I was introduced to grenades (LT) right away. Then I spent a bunch of time launching grenades/rockets from weapons (RT). Then I was re-introduced to new grenades. Only now I just assumed that they were ammo for my weapon. Whoops! I died several times trying to get my new grenades to work (via RT) until I randomly mashed the LT in frustration and discovered the actual way to use the grenade I was supposed to use. A simple text reminder would have gone a long way...

Unfortunately the level I was dropped into was a little frenetic and challenging for me. Again, this is a tough thing to get right: The combat experience has to be exciting (so the usual beginning tutorial isn't appropriate) but not frustrating.

What I think was most jarring was the fact that the first 5-10 minutes were spent peacefully destroying things and deforming terrain and marveling at the possibilities... And then I was dumped into a linear mission with combat that was tough enough to make me forget about all the cool things and just worry about running and gunning.

I can't help but think that the game would have been much more fun had there been a cool single player sand box mode combined with some sort of co-op against the baddies (where higher difficulty combat is much more fun and much less frustrating) or MP free for all battle component.

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